Summer/Fall 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 3/4 Poetry |

The Grievous Angel

I was punching touch-tones on a broken pay phone at Pacific and Grant when traffic quit. Sunday in Chinatown that doesn't happen unless someone has died. A procession: old men marching in uniform, horn players, then the black Cadillac convertible. Two white-gloved mourners propping up a portrait of an uncle or a brother. To hold a painting so huge each needed both hands, and tears dripped unwiped on their best suits. I let the receiver hang. Too many zones between us. Leaned back against the duck butcher's window until all the dark cars had passed, thinking of Gram Parsons' friends who stole his body from his family, cremated him the way he asked and showered his ash over Cap Rock. Your body, miles away in a colder city, came to me years ago by choice, mine to you. If I go first, don't leave me to my people.

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Katharine Whitcomb is the author of two full-length collections of poems, The Daughter’s Almanac, which was chosen as the winner of the 2014 Backwaters Prize and published by The Backwaters Press; Saints of South Dakota & Other Poems, which was chosen by Lucia Perillo as the winner of the 2000 Bluestem Award and published by Bluestem Press; and two poetry chapbooks, Hosannas (Parallel Press, 1999) and Lamp of Letters (Floating Bridge Press, 2009), winner of the 2009 Floating Bridge Chapbook Award. She is Professor of Creative Writing in the English Department and Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Central Washington University.

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